The NCAA Football Rules Committee has proposed a rule that would eject players who target and contact a defenseless player above the shoulders, the NCAA announced Wednesday. If passed, the rule would add the automatic ejection to the 15-yard penalty that already exists for targeting.
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The proposal was one of nine offered up by the committee, which has taken further steps over the last six years to protect players from head and neck injuries. Last February, the committee proposed – and had later passed – a rule moving kickoffs up to the 35-yard line; in the eyes of the committee, doing so would lead to more touchbacks and fewer returns, lessening the likelihood of injuries suffered by returners, blockers or wedge-busters.
“Student-athlete safety will always be one of our primary concerns,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, the committee chair, said in a release. “We all have a role to embrace when making a positive impact on our game. Taking measures to remove targeting, or above the shoulder hits on defenseless players, will improve our great sport.”.
“This move is being made to directly change player behavior and impact player safety,” said Rogers Redding, the secretary-editor of the rules committee and the national coordinator of college football officials.
Essentially, the penalty for targeting would match the penalty already in place for fighting: If a player is charged with the foul in the first half, he would be ejected for the remainder of the game; if the foul occurs in the second half, the player would miss the remainder of that game and the first half of his team’s next contest.
While the hit did not earn any suspension or penalty, Alabama defensive lineman Quinton Dial’s hit on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray during the SEC title game is a notable example from the 2012 season of the sort of “targeting a defenseless player” episodes the NCAA hopes to avoid:.
From here, the committee’s proposal goes to the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will meet on Mar. 6 to review all potential rule changes.